At our church, we tend to group several weeks of sermons into groups or sermon series. It's a common practice in lots of churches. It's a nice thing, really, because it allows us to get through a whole book of the Bible or to examine an idea through different angles.
During Lent, our series is the The Quest: Is the Journey Worth It?
A quick video preceded Pastor Mike's sermon, and in the video, we heard nautical music and the sound of sea gulls. An ancient ship sailed through rough waters until a sea serpent surrounded the ship and then lifted its head up under the ship, tossing it into the air. At this point, the music got more urgent and we saw spinning compasses, and the ship sailed through the compasses.
My description doesn't really do the clip justice. You can click on the link above if you want to see what the video actually looked like.
And I really do have a point. The ship appeared to be sailing away from glaciers, or at least very barren blue mountains. And it sailed into a sea monster that threatened anybody aboard. It's an animated video so the people on board are very hypothetical.
I don't know where the ship is supposed to be going. And it's impossible to know if a journey is worth it unless you know where you're headed.
I mean, is the intended destination worth the sacrifice no matter what?
When I started grad school, I made sure to write down why I was going back to school. I was fairly certain there would be days when it wouldn't seem like the journey was worth it. And there were. Lots of them.
Now that I'm close to finishing, I know my quest for an education has been worth it. Honestly though, I don't know exactly where I'll end up. There aren't a lot of jobs out there, and while I think I'm an amazing teacher, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of other amazing teachers out there. But no matter what happens next fall, I love the road I'm on.
But that's a personal quest.
I think our Western culture focuses on individual goals and journeys, but as Christ-followers, we must never forget that we are on a corporate journey.
We travel together as a community to live out God's mission on earth. We travel together to see lives transformed as they unite with God, and I know that doesn't make a lot of sense unless you know what I'm talking about it.
I know joy and peace and purpose when I live connected to God.
Not all the time, mind you. Life is hard.
But even in the hard times, I know the joy and peace and purpose are coming. And I can hang on because I know God loves me.
And I want others to sense that that same joy and purpose. I want to join with other Christ-followers to introduce people to Jesus.
Not in a hit-your-head-with-a-Bible sort of way, but by loving others. Yeah, I know it doesn't make a ton of sense.
Some things don't. Until you experience them. Or until you ask God to help you understand them.
And so we have begun fasting for Lent. Because we want to fast together, as a community. Not just with the community that is Newbreak, my church, but with a community of Christ-followers around the world.
This is our quest. We travel on that ancient ship reeling in rough waters, away from the barren hopeless mountains. We travel with a group, and sometimes it feels as though the ship may capsize. Occasionally a sea monster rears its ugly head and tosses the ship into the air. Sometimes the journey is hard. Sometimes we will be misunderstood. Sometimes we will be tired. But it's worth it.
We fast to remind ourselves of why we started the journey in the first place.
We also fast for individual prayer requests, but we must never forget this is a community fast. To know Jesus and to make him known.
We must never forget where we're going.